Wander around the historical preservation district of Kurashiki and slip back into the old time of Japan like Edo or Meiji Era – as far back as 400 years ago….
Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter（倉敷美観地区） used to be an island floating on the Seto Inland Sea over 400 years ago.
To develop more land for rice fields, people in Kurashiki started to reclaim the sea around Kurashiki and made the Kurashiki as it is today over time.
In reclaiming the shoal of the sea around Kurashiki, growing cotton was a very effective way because cotton absorbs the salt from the ground very well.
So Kurashiki（倉敷）became famous for not only the production of rice but also the production of cotton too.
Kurashiki prospered as a city of merchants and a transportation hub for commodities such as rice, cotton and other goods being stored and shipped to Osaka , the biggest merchant’s town in the Edo Era(1603-1868).
Kurashiki River and its Canal
Centered around the canal, there are lots of old town houses and storehouses preserving the original landscape of the merchant’s town of Kurashiki.
The historical area is full of old town houses and storehouses.
They were converted into cafes, restaurants, hotels, clothing stores, galleries, general stores and even a kimono rental shop too.
Kurashiki is only 11 minutes away from Okayama City, the capital of Okayama prefecture by JR train.
The Kurashiki Bikan Historical quarter is only a 10 minute walk from JR Kurashiki Station.
Walking in the area, it feels like you slip back into the old times such as Meiji(1868-1912) or Edo Era(1603-1868).
A little alley in the Kurashiki Bikan historic area.
The little alley like this gives it the retrospective feel to the area.
Kurashiki Japan Denim Market
Thanks to the production of cotton, Kurashiki developed as a city of textile industry too.
Kurashiki is the birthplace of Japanese jeans.
The city is famous for Jeans and denim products that are made in Japan. Kurashiki accounts for over 40% of domestic jeans productions.
A traditional sake brewery called “Morita Shuzo”
Some merchant houses remain as they have been for over 100 years whilst – in the second picture – this Edo-Style store house was converted into a tradional restaurant serving the local specialty.
The first Museum of Western Art in Japan.
Ohara Museum of art（大原美術館） was built in 1930 by the local entrepreneur & visionary, Magosaburo Ohara to commemorate Kojima Torajiro, a Western-style Japanese painter who died the previous year.
The museum exhibits a magnificent collection of Western masterpieces by artists such as Picasso, El Greco, Gauguin, Modigliani, Rodin, Klee, Pollock and Kandinsky.
Some historians say that, thanks to the marvelous collection of western masterpieces in Ohara Museum, the city apparently avoided the war calamity although other neighbouring cities such as Okayama or Hiroshima were bombed heavily.
Retrospective cafe right next to Ohara Museum
“EL GRECO” was named after the greek painter whose works are exhibited at the Ohara Museum.
The cafe used to be an office of an estate agent run by Magosaburo Ohara, the local entrepreneur before it was turned into this cafe.
Wanna enjoy a boat ride at the city centre?
For only 500 Yen, you can take a boat tour on the canal.
Admire beautifully maintained townhouses with white walls and weeping willow trees lining along the canal from this small boat.
In the Edo era(1603-1868), rice and other important commodities were distributed from other regions through this canal to each merchant’s house on a boat like this.
Feel as if you were back in the Edo era and enjoy the scenery of old Japan.
General information :
How to get there: Kurashiki is only 11 minutes from Okayama station by train.
Kurashiki Bikan Historical quarter is only a 15 minute walk from JR Kurashiki Station, there are enough signposts to show you how to get there.
Address: 〒710-0054 岡山県倉敷市本町１丁目４
Ohara Museusma of Art :
Admission fee:1300yen for general visitors and 800yen for students; 500yen for kids under 18.
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm (last entry:4:30pm)
Holidays:Every Monday and 28 to 31 of December.